"I think they're as good as any around," said Jon Pitcher, a
regular at Eddie's Restaurant.
"Everything he's got is a little bit better [than the competition]
and a little bit cheaper. I think it's really picked up for him
here lately, and I think it's because he puts forth a good product.
There ain't a thing on [the menu] that I'd really turn down."
So in reality, it's more than just the ribs that keep people
like Pitcher coming back to Eddie's. His "unique product" is bigger;
the ribs are just the hook on the end of the line. Baker seems
a step ahead of the competition in all areas. His service is quick,
the food is fresh and the atmosphere is friendly.
"We still do their fast-food stuff, but we use fresh patties,"
Baker said as he tossed some freshly cut mushrooms on the grill,
bathed them in butter and threw on a dash of seasoning. "There's
nothing too good for your fellow human being. Why not give it
your best shot?"
After a rough beginning, he says that philosophy is starting
to pay dividends.
"We're starting to show signs of life," Baker said. "Boy, did
I ever get in debt. But I'm relentless. I know I can succeed."
Baker, who turned 46 last week, attacks everything with that
same relentless zeal. His resume says, "There is no greater freedom
than the freedom that we have in this country to achieve." And
Baker has taken advantage of that freedom to achieve everywhere
from the oil fields of Texas to the kitchens of Utah.
He graduated from Kilgore College in Kilgore, Texas, in May
1982 with an associate's degree in oil and gas technology -- "drilling
holes in Mother Earth," as he calls it. Unfortunately, the oil
market fell through the floor around that same time, and Delta
Drilling in Tyler, Texas, laid him off. Baker had been working
as a roughneck for Delta, handling the equipment, connecting pipe
and drilling holes.
"It's fun," he said. "I thought I'd be working for those guys
all my life."
After two years of applying for roughneck jobs throughout the
oil industry, Baker left Texas. He spent nine years in Alaska,
then moved to Utah. Now his restaurant is his passion. He greets
his customers with a smile, calls them by name and chats with
them while cooking their meals.
"It seems like everyone that comes in here, he knows them,"
said Luis Pitcher, Jon's brother, who is another regular at Eddie's
"Now whether or not he does, I don't know, but it seems like
he does." Friendly and prompt service, fair pricing - it's all
part of the product Baker offers. It's not just great ribs but
a complete dining experience, one based not only on good food
but a pleasurable atmosphere. The type of scene one might find
on a Cheers rerun.
Baker's degree isn't in marketing or economics. It's not in
accounting or advertising either. He studied the art of drilling
holes. His restaurant isn't the fanciest in town, and it doesn't
have a big corporate name either. The one thing it does have is
a lot of competition.
How do you succeed with a restaurant like Baker's? The answer
isn't in any graphs or thick textbooks. It's in the product offered.
And from the sounds of it, Baker offers a good one.